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BCBG to Launch in India

The company has signed with Reliance Brands to enter the Indian market.

BCBG Max Azria has signed with Reliance Brands to enter the Indian market.

This story first appeared in the June 16, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Reliance Brands, which is part of Reliance Industries Ltd., has become a major player over the last few years, and has been bringing global brands into the Indian market. These include Stuart Weitzman, Thomas Pink, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Ermenegildo Zegna and Iconix.

“We have been looking at the market for a while, and it seems to be a really good time to launch,” Sophie Rietdyk, president of licensing and international for the BCBG Max Azria Group, said. The formal process of negotiating with malls has yet to begin and the first stores will open in early 2015.

“I saw mall spaces and have a very good idea about how we can fit in. The way the zoning of the brands is being done was impressive,” she said.

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Rietdyk is upbeat about the positioning of the brand in India. “There are a lot of luxury brands, and there are many players in the men’s market but there’s not so much of women’s wear in this space,” she observed.

Darshan Mehta, president and chief operating officer of Reliance Brands, agreed. “There is a wide gap in women’s fashion wear,” he said, explaining that although there are now brands such as Zara and Forever 21, as well as luxury brands, there are few brands that cater to a more chic, fashionable woman in an affordable price range. “It’s for the woman who is ready to graduate from Promod and Villa Moda,” he said, mentioning two Indian brands.

“Bollywood is certainly part of our plan,” said Rietdyk, indicating that Mumbai was likely to be one of the first stops for the brand in India. Along with women’s wear, accessories and footwear will be part of the offering.

The group, which was launched in 1989 by Max Azria, has been looking at growing its international footprint, and has 700 stand-alone stores across the world. Asia is also an important target — the first two stores opened in Thailand in April and May this year, and there are plans to expand the brand presence in China in 2015.

“We’re very used to entering new markets,” Rietdyk said, “and we have everything we need to support and position the brand in India. In all the countries, BCBG Max Azria enters first because it is a complete lifestyle brand. It’s easier in India because the customer there is very much in tune with what is happening outside.”

The price range will be between 6,000 and 20,000 rupees, or $100 to $335, for the BCBG Max Azria brand and between 4,000 and 12,000 rupees, or $67 or $2,000, for BCBGeneration. Prices in India are often hard to compare to their international counterparts, given customs duties and taxes.